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Coffee Weekly Insights – W1 November 2023
Weekly Report

Nel Drip Coffee: The intact beauty is imbued with the colors of old Saigon

  • Madam Suong, please make me a cup of Nel Drip Coffee with less ice, no milk, and less sugar!
  • Okay, wait a minute. Mrs. Suong – Nel Drip Coffee workshop owner.

Sipping a cup of coffee with a fragrant aroma on Mrs. Suong’s old stool, I suddenly found Saigon to be warm and so beautiful. Day after day, night and light again, still on these familiar street corners, just a few steps is all it takes to see barrows full of food and drink, things that appear to have lived half a person’s life. Then I see a young person hurriedly holding a cup of coffee passing by some elderly people drinking coffee and talking about life.

Suddenly, I turned to Mrs. Suong and asked: “Madam, why do people say that if you want to find the old Saigon, you should come and sup a few sips of coffee and you will know? “Because it grew up with Saigon”, she explained.

Introduced to Vietnam early in the 20th century, Nel Drip Coffee was originally only for the elite. It gradually became a popular drink, crept across all social classes, making it appear everywhere, progressively infiltrating the daily habits and memories of the people in the leading city in Vietnam at that time. It gives coffee drinkers with a moment of respite before returning to the restless bright lights spin.

Nel Drip Coffee gets its name from the tool used to make it. People usually use a 20cm – 25cm tin racket to extract coffee. After two times of filtering with boiled water, the coffee is perfectly preserved by the earthen pot. This coffee has a unique flavor, that combines a strong coffeetaste with a sweet and fatty aftertaste that is hard to find in other brewing methods.

Screenshot 2022 04 26

Coffee is extracted using racket in a pot.

Unlike filter coffee, which is condensed and has a slightly harsh feeling, racket coffee is lighter in flavor and more “ripe”. If you take your time with it, you will smell a little burnt but extremely pleasant aroma of coffee, in an elegant way.

  • Here you go. I extracted it for 10 minutes to make it fragrant and strong. Mrs. Suong happily said.
  • Thank you very much! You did add butter and wine now, didn’t you? I saw you hand-roasted, and it’s really aromatic.
  • Yeah, I believe it’s got a distinct smell.

I accepted the cup of coffee with joy in my heart, holding a fragrant cup of coffee, I feel the warm and rich bitterness from the tip of the tongue to the sweet flavor in the throat, so satisfying and cozy. It is because of this special thing, if the coffee here is drunk, only addiction and memories remain.

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Coffee with condensed milk (Cheo Leo Cafe)

Look at the old silver-haired man holding a paper newspaper, gently savouring a cup of coffee, watching young people come to chat on green plastic chairs on the side of the street, experiencing the “soul” of Sai Gon’s coffee culture in the past, until the children enjoyed the feeling of standing and watching each racket being lifted, the smoke emitting a strong aroma, I felt like I was witnessing a miniature Saigon.

Furthermore, sitting in the heart of the Capital Market, sipping a cup of coffee and listening to the bustling sounds of the market and cars passing by is always very peaceful in the middle of crowded Saigon, completely “intact”.

In the never-ending spin of Saigon, some things are lost, some things stay, some things appear, and Nel Drip Coffee with milk and raw chicken eggs was born accordingly. Smash little chicken seeds directly into a cup of freshly brewed milk coffee, which is still hot, stir evenly so that the egg melts and blends into the coffee, then blow up and drink it right away to feel the sweet milky coffee taste.

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Coffee with egg – An unique way to enjoy coffee of Vietnamese people

What remains is that visiting any Nel Drip Coffee workshop in Saigon, is very idyllic and close. Among the streets lined with all kinds of different coffees, Nel Drip Coffee is still an attractive coffee, enticing people to taste it and become addicted from the the very beginning.

Nowadays, Saigon is very modern and developed, so Nel Drip Coffee is rarely brewed with coal stoves, earthen pots, and rackets as it once was, the number of Nel Drip Coffee workshop is also decreasing. But there is still a Nel Drip Coffee workshop like Mrs. Suong that has existed for more than 80 years to bring old people together with greetings, connect young people through nostalgia, simplicity with small plastic seats and fire stove.

Her only concern is how to preserve and maintain Nel Drip Coffee in the manner in which it must be done, as well as how to provide the very best cup of Vietnamese coffee to customers, not only in the local community, but also to our coffee friends from all over the globe. In order to ensure hygiene, she is extremely conscientious about the ingredients she uses; every single bean is chosen from a direct source in order to support local farmers; and tools are sanitized and cleaned daily.

“Even though I only manage a tiny coffee shop, I am extremely proud of the Vietnamese coffee business and use beans that are exported all over the world. I want to make a drink that tells a story and demonstrates how beautiful Vietnamese coffee is.” – She expressed herself.

Nel Drip Coffee keep the warm stories, keep a rustic culture on the sidewalks. It is a familiar place for many people. They see Nel Drip Coffee workshop as a way to return to the ancient memory region, dwelling in the past in the magnificent land.

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